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There are only 33 days till Labor Day!

August 1, 2014
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Why think about Labor Day right now? Well, sometimes it helps to know all the past July heat is over and we only have a few hot and humid days left to struggle with.

We have had some real hard rains, real hard thunder and lightening storms, lots of real serious sunshine and, last but not least, a real active growth period for all things growing.

This is the way our sub-tropical climate is supposed to be. I am not going to get into "are we sub-tropical, really, or not." I am always surprised to note that a lot of words have been written about just what this area is, they do not always agree. It doesn't help, of course ,that we can grow things in our 10a or 10b zone just fine but we can also sneak in some zone 11 or even a colder zone 9b.

I think most of us know that you have things on this side of Highway 75 that cannot thrive on the east side.

If we suspect a frost in this area, over there you can expect a frost. Heck, even in the Northeast Cape I have a family member who had to scrape of his truck windows last winter. He has a two-car garage, but that is full of fun things like a riding lawn mower, electric edger, a collection of shovels and trowels, and saws. All things that are very useful and necessary in maintaining his property in a neat manner. Even if he does not want to always spend most of his Saturdays keeping weeds, bugs and a thriving lawn in check, one has to keep up appearances in the neighborhood.

Water, sun and a decent soil do promote excessive growth around here in the summer months. It also promotes a lot of color and beauty. What is that old saying, "You can't appreciate the sunshine without the rain." In our case the beautiful rainbows that grace the skies.

It is tiresome to be toiling in the hot sun, so be cautious and have a plan. Early morning or early evening. Or stay in the shade. I know where I can do some things in the late morning because there is always a little breeze and the shade in that area is just right.

Still conserve water. Potted things are drying out very fast as the hot afternoon sun dries up a pot real fast even after a morning rain. Watch hanging baskets - they are hard hit by hot winds. Some of the hard rains will wash away any bit of the fertilizer that you expected to last for three months.

Speaking of fertilizer, remember how to fertilize from now until September, or how NOT to fertilize.

Don't cut the grass too short. Sprinkler systems do not need to be sprinkling the morning after a monsoon has just blown through the day before. Do you have a system that automatically shuts if off when it is not needed?

Summer is an ideal time to plant tropical trees, palms and shrubs. Mulch keeps plant roots nice and cool and usually looks pretty neat. I am not a fan of red stuff but it still looks neat.

One thing I am noticing in our particular southwest neighborhood is that a dozen or so exotic pepper trees are being destroyed. Yeah! They are all on vacant lots and are being destroyed carefully, where they are blocking the growth of the slash pines, and anything else they are crowding out. This is a part of an exotic removal program being done by the city of Cape Coral. Congratulations to them and to the fact that it is all being done in a very nice neat way.

Keep cool; use that sunscreen and mosquito repellant of choice.

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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